With the ever-evolving B2B sales environment, the myriad of ways to generate sales leads can get confusing and even overwhelming. More and more B2B business leads are coming from our increasingly connected community, making this even more complicated; buyers are relying on peer influence more than ever when making purchasing decisions.
To take advantage of this trend and shift away from relying on outbound sales, social selling can be a great strategy. By adding social media to your marketing tactics, your company can use social media platforms to build relationships with prospective clients and generate more leads. Using social media to enhance your sales processes enables you to discover more prospects, connect with them more intimately, and guide them toward your product. There are several different ways that shifting to a social selling strategy can help you generate more B2B business leads.
Background: Out with the Old, In with the New
Traditional sales tactics just aren’t working the way they used to. Outbound B2B sales are steadily growing less effective, especially in the case of cold calling. This practice is frequently cited as a huge pet peeve in business, and often elicits low success rates. In fact, phone calls as a medium in general are on their way out. Connecting with prospects now takes upwards of 18 phone calls, and callback rates hover around 1%. Email isn’t faring much better; only about a quarter of outbound sales emails are opened.
Instead of phone calls and email, businesses are looking toward peer recommendations and other referrals when making decisions about where to purchase goods and services. Further, since tech-savvy Millennials are comprising greater portions of the workforce, businesses must adapt to their preferences for communication via social media and references.
This phenomenon has resulted in a sense of urgency about keeping up with the times; some experts warn that if organizations don’t adapt to the digital era, 1 million B2B salespeople may lose their jobs by 2020. To adapt to these developments and survive the transition, businesses are shifting towards social selling to generate sales leads.
The success of social selling strategies is well-documented. About 75% of B2B buyers use social media to refer to their peers about purchasing goods and services, and 53% of survey respondents said that social media influences how buyers make selections between different tools and technologies. The statistics back up these assertions from buyers, as well. About 72% of B2B salespeople who use social media said that they outperformed their peers who didn’t, and social media sales professionals are six times more likely to exceed quota than sales professionals who don’t use social media.
Further, using social media can attract higher quality leads than more traditional sales methods. According to IDC, buyers who use social media to find potential purchases tend to be higher-level, have larger budgets, purchase goods and services more frequently, and have more power over the final purchasing decisions. As a result, sales people get larger deals and shorter selling cycles. In fact, sales teams that use social selling fill their pipeline faster and generally accelerate pipeline conversion by up to 15%.
The best part is, it doesn’t take much time or energy to get started on a social selling strategy, as it’s one of the most efficient ways to generate B2B business leads. B2B sales people who successfully focus on social selling only spend about 5% to 10% of their time on social media. In essence, there are great benefits to adopting social selling and very few drawbacks.
Speed Things Up
One of these benefits is the speed at which you can generate sales leads using social selling. Traditional B2B sales can be over-complex and cumbersome, due to the aforementioned repeat calls and ignored emails. Social selling streamlines the process.
For one, a social sales strategy allows salespeople to be involved much earlier in the sales cycle, as they are usually the ones communicating with potential buyers on the social media platform. This lets them do what they’re good at earlier on, as they can come up with client solutions from the beginning – and win the sale right at the start.
Also, it’s easier to get in touch with prospects via social media, as the average person spends close to 2 hours a day online. No repeat phone calls and barely missing people who just stepped out of the office; instead, you can catch them while they’re already engaged in the social media platform, saving your company a significant amount of time.
The fact that many social media users access their favorite sites across different devices like laptops and mobile phones helps this, as you can create campaigns across multiple channels and spread your net wider with minimal extra time or effort. The quicker the process, the better the ROI.
Build (and Keep) a Network
Social selling also allows companies to connect with and build a network of prospects for potential conversions. The vast amount of information online about people involved in decision-making processes is a treasure trove for B2B business lead generation.
For instance, if you don’t know who exactly is in charge of making purchasing decisions for a particular company, social media can come to the rescue. Sales reps can search platforms like LinkedIn to identify key stakeholders at a target business, then use LinkedIn or another platform to contact those stakeholders directly and establish connections.
Further, since 82% of business prospects are on social media, you can build a network by conversing with other companies in your niche, chatting with potential partners, and commenting on posts from industry experts and other authority figures. In this way, social selling will allow your sales reps to build a powerful resource of human capital to get referrals and learn about the latest trends.
To make this network as profitable as possible, it’s important to regularly engage with the individuals within it. Start conversations, like posts, and ask questions to your prospects and other industry professionals in order to get and keep their attention. If you interact with them frequently enough, you can build relationships and eventually generate sales leads.
Perhaps most importantly, keep in mind that you need to maintain your network – not just build, use, and discard it. The best social selling strategies involve staying in touch with the company’s customer base to retain existing clients. Luckily, social media makes this simple by allowing you to track and monitor your high-value clients.
Produce Focused Content
Once you’ve established a network of business leads, it’s time to begin targeted marketing through social media to get sales. Unlike general social media marketing, which is focused on increasing brand awareness to the masses, social selling allows companies to created focused content to attract potential customers.
In order for a sales rep to form a relationship with each prospective client, he or she should produce content and establish one-to-one communication that serves the specific needs of that client. Using social media to listen to prospects’ needs will help company representatives give suggestions and answer questions, making them valuable to prospects. In other words, the best social sellers identify buyers’ pain points and interests, and offer solutions to build the relationship and generate conversions.
The Last Word —A Future-Proof Strategy
To get even more targeted, you can use social media platforms to segment a client base by geolocation and demographics. Collect this information from the social media accounts of prospective clients, then created targeted content to reel those clients in. Figure out the best channels to contact leads and tap into conversations about the industries you’re focused on. In other words, by learning what customers are asking and discussing, you can generate useful content that will help them learn something new and see your company as a valuable resource.
Although there isn’t one, surefire method to generate sales leads, using social selling is a future-proof strategy to capitalize on the popularity of social media for your own benefit. From increasing efficiency to building more intimate relationships with your customer base, transitioning into a more digital sales tactic can greatly help in your B2B sales.